I have written before about how much I love having chooks in my garden, but I haven’t written much about our bees. Keeping bees was something I had been wanting to do for some time, so I was really pleased when I was finally able to get into a course and get stuck into learning so much about these fascinating creatures. Late last year I went to the local adult education college and did a one-day beekeeping course. As a result of that course, we invested in 3 hives,
We now have 2 hives in a our suburban back yard which are doing very well and one hive on our bush block on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We invested in Ligurian bees from Kangaroo Island as they are the most docile and easiest to handle for beginners – better to be safe than sorry.
Not only have we enjoyed magnificent pollination rates – especially with our pumpkins, I have enjoyed immensely watching them go about their daily foraging business, flying in and out of the hive, as they create their own unique flight path, returning to the hive laden with pollen and nectar visible to the naked eye, weighing them down as they come into land.
The bonus of all this entertainment is that I managed to spin off about 12 kgs of honey this year.
While that’s not considered to be a huge amount, we only took honey from one hive as the other two were not quite as strong and we wanted to leave them plenty of honey for the winter months. And the honey tastes nothing like anything I have ever purchased – not even honey I have bought in the past from farmers’markets! It’s our own special blend, I guess, made from all the lovely flowers that we have in our garden and those within a couple of kilometres of our house.
If you know anyone who keeps bees, then start talking to them about what you can exchange for a jar of their liquid gold, or consider keeping a hive or two yourself. It is well worth the initial outlay and the effort to manage the hive or hives – where else can you get free pollination services, backyard entertainment, and food that never spoils?
P.S. You might have noticed I’ve changed my header image in honour of the humble bee to remind me that these little creatures are so important in our cycle of life. If you feel so inspired, plant a flowering plant – lavender, rosemary, daisies are all favourites of the bees and easy to grow!
The second permaculture principle is all about saving for a rainy day, or making hay while the sun shines. Whichever part of the world you find yourself in, rainy or sunny, this is a great principle for making the most of what you’ve got. More ideas can be found on the Permaculture Principles page. I hope it gives you some ideas of how to make your future life easier!
Some time ago we acquired six beautiful black faced Suffolk ewes with the intention of breeding them for meat – mainly for our own consumption, but perhaps with a little to share amongst friends and family. The breeder from whom we purchased them gave us plenty of tips and information about growing lambs. He told us that most ewes only come into their fertile season in warm weather, hence they tend to birth their lambs in winter, some five months after conception.
A short time after the ewes came to the farm we purchased a ram from a fellow hobby farmer. The ram has a proven history of producing offspring … a good start we thought. So the seven lovely Suffolks have been happily eating our grass and competing with the Dexters for hay for about 8 months now. And it’s about 4 months since the end of summer. Seems like the time must be getting close for lambs to appear if they are there! Each week when we visit the farm, we study the ewes … Are they getting fatter? Is that an udder I see forming? Really when did the weather get warm? And is it really almost 5 months yet? We did have a late summer with March being by far the warmest month of the season.
It seems stories abound of lambs being born on cold, wet, windy winter nights. Well we’ve had some of those, and still no lambs… And so we wait and wonder if nature did, in fact, take its course.
And every time we visit the farm I peer over the gate, hoping to spot a little bundle of Suffolk lamb, and every week so far I have been disappointed. The anticipation of a lamb hits me about 3 days before we go each week, so I spend 3 days thinking about what it will be like to see our first lamb, then several days recovering from the disappointment of “not yet”.
Time will tell … and I’m hoping my patience is soon rewarded!
I have started a new page which talks about the 12 permaculture principles. Whether you are familiar with them or not, have a look for ideas – you might be inspired – you might be able to contribute to the learnings. I have started with the first principle and I will add to these gradually over coming days and weeks. Enjoy!